Gamer Koala

The Best Nintendo 3DS Games of All Time

Did anyone else think Nintendo was crazy when they announced a 3D-capable handheld that didn’t require special glasses? I was ready to call the claim absurd. But, of course, history has proven that underestimating Nintendo tends to be a mistake.

The 3DS exploded onto the scene with its new gimmick backed up by some great releases. Not to mention the full backward compatibility with the established DS library of games.

Join us as we celebrate the best Nintendo 3DS games that defined the handheld’s legacy and stood the test of time.

10. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Cover art for Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2012)
Developer: Level-5
Game Type: Puzzle, Adventure
Multiplayer: No

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask presents players with a captivating blend of puzzle-solving and a compelling narrative. Players assume the role of Professor Hershel Layton, a renowned archaeologist and puzzle enthusiast, as he investigates a mysterious masked figure and uncovers the secrets of a cursed city.

The objective is to solve various challenging puzzles, riddles, and brainteasers throughout the game. Miracle Mask featured charming characters, intricate puzzles, and an engaging storyline. Its immersive world, beautiful hand-drawn art style, and sense of accomplishment from solving mind-bending puzzles made it a standout title.

9. Mario Kart 7

Cover art for Mario Kart 7 for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Mario Kart 7

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Developer: Nintendo
Game Type: Racing
Multiplayer: Yes

Mario Kart 7 takes the beloved kart racing franchise to new heights on the Nintendo 3DS. Players choose from a diverse cast of Mario characters and race across imaginative tracks filled with power-ups, obstacles, and shortcuts. But, of course, the multiplayer is where the game truly shines!

Mario Kart 7 brought polished gameplay, addictive multiplayer battles, and exciting new features such as gliding and underwater segments to the series. The game’s vibrant visuals, catchy music, and extensive customization options ensured endless hours of fun and fierce competition among friends and online opponents.

Cover art of LoZ A Link Between Worlds for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – The Legend of Zela: A Link Between Worlds

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2013)
Developer: Nintendo
Game Type: ARPG
Multiplayer: No

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a spiritual successor to the beloved A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Players embark on a parallel adventure as Link, journeying through the kingdom of Hyrule and the mysterious world of Lorule. As usual, Link must rescue Princess Zelda, defeat a big-bad (this time, the villainous Yuga), and restore balance to the realms.

Players loved A Link Between Worlds’ innovative gameplay mechanic that allowed Link to merge into walls and navigate between dimensions. Its nostalgic yet fresh take on the classic Zelda formula, captivating dungeons, and memorable music made it a must-play title for fans of the series.

7. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

Cover art for Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2013)
Developer: Next Level Games
Game Type: Action-Adventure
Multiplayer: Yes

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon continues the ghost-hunting adventures of the beloved Luigi. Players control Luigi as he explores haunted mansions armed with the Poltergust 5000, a vacuum cleaner used to capture mischievous ghosts. The objective is to solve puzzles, defeat powerful spirits, and restore peace to the haunted locations.

Charming humor, clever puzzle design, and atmospheric ghost-filled environments are a staple of the Luigi’s Mansion series, and this entry was no exception. The game’s diverse mansions, creative use of the 3D effect, and Luigi’s endearing personality made it a standout title. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon showcased the Nintendo 3DS’s unique capabilities.

6. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Cover art for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

U.S. Release: Nintendo 64 (2015)
Developer: Capcom
Game Type: ARPG
Multiplayer: Yes

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate immerses players in a thrilling hunting adventure where they take on the role of a hunter in a vibrant fantasy world. The objective is to track and battle colossal monsters, collect resources, and craft powerful weapons and armor. What can we say, it’s the Monster Hunter game loop that fans expect!

As always, the series features deep combat mechanics, cooperative multiplayer mode, and a vast array of monsters to conquer. The game’s emphasis on strategy, teamwork, and progression appealed to fans of challenging action RPGs, offering countless hours of addictive gameplay and the satisfaction of overcoming formidable foes.

5. Super Mario 3D Land

Cover art for Super Mario 3D Land for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Super Mario 3D Land

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Developer: Nintendo
Game Type: Platform
Multiplayer: No

Super Mario 3D Land combines the best of 2D and 3D Mario games into another timeless platforming adventure. Players guide Mario through a series of fantastically designed levels, collecting power-ups and defeating enemies on a quest to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser, who will clearly never learn his lesson.

The level design, clever use of the 3D effect, and the perfect blend of nostalgic elements and fresh gameplay ideas made Super Mario 3D Land a standout title. The ability to switch between 2D and 3D perspectives brought a new and fun angle to Mario.

4. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Cover art for Fire Emblem for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Fire Emblem: Awakening

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2013)
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Game Type: Tactical RPG
Multiplayer: Yes

Fire Emblem: Awakening revitalized the tactical RPG genre with its compelling characters, deep strategy, and immersive storyline. Players assume the role of a customizable protagonist and lead a band of warriors to defend the kingdom of Ylisse from an ancient evil. Players will need to strategically position units, use their unique abilities, and forge relationships with other characters.

Awakening’s addictive turn-based battles, intricate character interactions, and robust class system kept players engaged for hours upon hours. It also featured a Casual mode, which eliminated permanent character death, making it more accessible to newcomers while maintaining the challenge for veteran players.

3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Cover art for Animal Crossing for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Animal Crossing: New Leaf

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2013)
Developer: Nintendo
Game Type: Social Sim
Multiplayer: Yes

Animal Crossing: New Leaf offers a charming and cozy life simulation experience. Players become the mayor of their own town, interacting with anthropomorphic animal villagers and engaging in various activities such as fishing, bug catching, and fossil hunting. The objective is to customize and expand the town, build relationships with villagers, and create the ideal virtual life.

New Leaf features some truly adorable characters, immersive gameplay, and nearly endless customization. The game’s real-time mechanics, regular events, and the ability to visit other players’ towns made it a beloved and long-lasting experience on the Nintendo 3DS.

2. Pokémon Sun and Moon

Cover art for Pokemon Sun for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – Pokémon Sun and Moon

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2016)
Developer: Game Freak
Game Type: RPG
Multiplayer: Yes

Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced a whole new generation of Pokémon and breathed new life into the beloved franchise. Players take on the role of a Pokémon Trainer in the Alola region, collecting and training Pokémon while battling against other Trainers. The objective is to become the Champion of the Pokémon League and unravel the region’s mysteries.

Sun and Moon featured a fresh new coat of paint, vibrant new Pokémon designs, and an engaging storyline. The games’ Alolan forms, dynamic battles, and improved online features made them a hit among casual and competitive Pokémon players.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Cover art of LoZ Ocarina of Time 3D for Nintendo 3DS

Game Info – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

U.S. Release: Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Developer: Nintendo
Game Type: ARPG
Multiplayer: No

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D marks the second time this timeless N64 classic “made the jump to 3D.”

This time, it came with enhanced visuals and new features. As Link, players must rescue Princess Zelda and defeat the evil Ganondorf. Like other games in the franchise, Link will navigate dungeons, solve puzzles, and defeat enemies in a vast open world.

Ocarina of Time 3D’s incredible storyline, memorable new characters, and ingenious dungeon design translated perfectly from the N64 to the 3DS. The game’s 3D effect added depth to its breathtaking environments. The refined controls and updated visuals made it a must-play title for longtime fans and newcomers to the series.